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Editorial: More defibrillators, training can save lives

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Last year, the ushers at a Johnson County church were trained in CPR. Part of that training involved learning about automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

These small, box-shaped devices are used to shock stopped hearts back into proper rhythm so they can continue to pump life-giving blood.

The church ushers were shown how the device works and what they need to do in an emergency. (The first step always is to call 911.) The device is mounted on a wall near the sanctuary, where it is easily accessible.

AEDs are available in schools, churches and businesses across the county.

But to be truly effective, more places need to have them. After all, a cardiac incident can happen anywhere, not just at a gym.

No special training is needed to operate an AED. Most units now have recorded prompts that tell rescuers what to do step by step and when to do it. In addition, sensors detect vital signs, so that inadvertent and potentially damaging actions are avoided.

For example, if the unit detects a fatal heart rhythm, then the AED will shock the patient in an attempt to restart the heart. If the device doesn’t detect one of the fatal rhythms, then it will do nothing.

Potential rescuers need to act quickly. AEDs give a cardiac patient an 18 to 20 percent chance of survival when accompanied by CPR. That survival rate drops to   10 percent for cardiac arrest victims who don’t get treated with an AED within minutes of an incident.

People shouldn’t be afraid to act out of fear of legal repercussion. Indiana law was changed about three years ago, which allowed businesses, organizations and private individuals to buy the machines without a prescription or doctor’s oversight. Individuals also are protected against legal action in the units’ use.

This change in law spurred many locations to obtain and install AEDs, but they need to be even more prevalent; and more people need to be trained in CPR. A training session is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 9 at the White River library, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood. The Red Cross and other organizations also offer classes.

We urge people to go through this lifesaving training.

AEDs are user-friendly devices that can save lives in cardiac arrest cases. However, to be effective, people need to be aware of the devices and be ready to utilize them. In addition, training in CPR will give people the confidence to act quickly in a crisis.

With wider distribution of the devices and increased training, more lives can be saved.

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